June 11—Friends and family of former Director of Parks and Recreation for more than 30 years, Brian A. Mattson, who died earlier this year at the age of 78, have officially announced that the Keene Recreation Center will be renamed in his honor.
The proclamation was made during a memorial service for Mattson on the Center Lawn on Saturday afternoon. About 100 friends, family, co-workers and city officials attended, including a few sharing their memories of Mattson.
One of them was Joseph Clifford, who said he was responsible for the idea behind the center’s rechristening. He added that in 1972 he was one of the first athletes to participate in the Keene Special Olympics, which Mattson helped organize.
“It was my idea to submit to the city the name of this building in honor of Brian, as a living legacy,” said Clifford. “Brian Mattson was a mentor to me, he was a friend.”
Councilman Thomas Powers said it only took a “little snippet” of how Mattson served the community to convince the council.
Indeed, the decision to rename the building as the Brian A. Mattson Keene Recreation Center was unanimously approved by City Council on June 3. At the time Councilor Philip Jones called it “a great tribute to a great man”.
“He just bled love for Keene,” he said. “He was an exceptional person who just wanted to get things done and knew how to get things done.”
Mattson’s son, Jered, said he was grateful his father’s memory was honored.
“My dad’s legacy is of someone who loved people, and he loved community so much,” he said. “And I can’t thank the Town of Keene and everyone involved enough for putting their name on this board.”
Mattson first served as assistant director of parks and recreation in 1971, and six years later was promoted to the department’s top job. One of Mattson’s major accomplishments as director was leading a $4.4 million project to renovate the building at 312 Washington St. into what is now the recreation center. And since then, it has transformed into a hub for city-sponsored activities.
Berlin-born and Gorham-raised, according to his obituary, Mattson served as manager for more than 30 years, until his retirement in 2010. He was replaced by Andy Bohannon, whose first parks and recreation job was a referee basketball in 7th grade. Bohannon then worked under Mattson as a recreational programmer in 2004, and they grew close. He said it was only fitting that a man who left a huge mark on the community should be the centre’s namesake.
“It’s an honor for us to even be able to consider Brian for this opportunity, with all he has given us all,” Bohannon said.
Bohannon said the new name will come into effect after a sign for the building is designed and a groundbreaking ceremony will be held on a date to be determined.
Hunter Oberst can be reached at 355-8585, or [email protected]